Rosewood felling: Forest Dept. to seek AG’s advice

Report submitted by officials not satisfactory, says Minister A.K. Saseendran

Forest Minister A.K. Saseendran has said that the department will seek the advice of the Advocate General on the recent illegal felling and sale of rosewood trees from private plantations at Muttil in Wayanad district.

Addressing a ‘meet the press’ event at the Calicut Press Club here on Saturday, he said the report submitted by officials on the issue was not satisfactory. Though the title deed of the plantations was in the name of private persons, they did not have the permission to cut or sell trees from the premises. The officials had claimed that no one had been arrested so far even as over 40 cases had been registered. This was because the smuggled wood was yet to be reclaimed. The Revenue Minister too has sought a report from officials. Follow-up action will be taken based on the reports.

“It was a loot of our forest wealth. Culprits will be brought to book. I have discussed the issue with the Chief Minister and at least five senior officials. If the ongoing probe does not make any headway, other agencies will be roped in for the purpose,” Mr. Saseendran said. The Minister added that people’s committees would be formed in grama panchayats in the hilly regions to conserve wildlife. Elected representatives and Forest officials will be members of the committee.

Mr. Saseendran claimed that he was completely aware of the need to protect the environment though he did not consider himself to be an ‘environmental extremist’. “There is a plan to develop mini forests within cities. I have conveyed to the Kozhikode Mayor that the first of such forests can be opened in the city if land is available,” he said.

Mr. Saseendran said the proposed Athirappally hydro-electric power would be implemented only through a consensus, and he would convey the department’s opinion when the time comes.

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